Misconceptions and challenges about America

There are plenty of misconceptions about America, or any country for that matter. Some of mine were expecting random Americans to come up and talk to me for no reason, and that people don’t work out that much. This turned out to be false.

Some of the biggest misconceptions Europeans have about Americans are that they are not interested in learning other languages or living in another country, and they don’t learn about geography in school nor appreciate soccer.

Today I had a chat with a transfer student from China, Zifan Wu, to find out what his biggest misconception about the U.S. was.

“I though I would hate the hamburgers, but then I realized they are really good,” he said.

Zifan said before he came to America, people told him that he would not be able to find any good food – nothing beats the food of your home country. But then he tried American fast food, and he was hooked.

“The fast food in America is good enough to be an important part of your life,” Zifan said smiling. “I eat at McDonald’s twice a week.”

I went on asking Zifan about one of my misconceptions about America, that Americans are really open-minded and like to talk to strangers. He said Americans are indeed very friendly and easy to talk to, but it’s hard to become close friends with them and get involved in the American culture. He thinks the language differences are the reason behind it.

“You can see many Chinese students hanging out together and staying in their comfort zone,” Zifan said. “It’s hard to get to know Americans because we don’t speak as good English as they do.”

According to Zifan, the only opportunity he thinks he has to talk to Americans is in class, but that is not enough to become close friends. Living with American students might be the best way to actually get to know them and get involved in the American culture, Zifan said.

But if you don’t have American roomies, Zifan said a way to make it easier to get to know Americans is by improving your English. Maybe it’s easier to practice with other international students since they’re all in the same boat, but once you get more comfortable with your English, you should go talk to Americans.

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